We all have that one friend who's really really into K-pop. Maybe that friend has finally worn you down and now you want to dip your toe into the wonderful world of K-pop. Maybe you are that friend, and you're trying to find a way to introduce the uninitiated to the bands they should be paying attention to. That's why we made this list of the most popular K-pop groups in 2018.
14 Most Popular K-Pop Groups In 2018
Despite coming from a small company (Source Music), GFriend has garnered quite a following since their 2015 debut. Known for their nostalgic synth-pop sound, GFriend rose to popularity soon after the release of "Glass Bead", the promotional track from their debut EP Season of Glass.
Their latest single "Sunny Summer" (linked above) is a bit different from their usual sound. Upbeat and breezy, it's a summertime anthem through and through.
No, Seventeen doesn't have 17 members. The boy group consists of "only" 13 members divided into three subunits: hip-hop, vocal, and performance. Because the group's members are hands-on in the composition and production of their songs and choreography, they've been called a "self-producing" idol group.
Their latest single "Oh My!" is a catchy feel-good bop with a music video that's both aesthetically pleasing and playful.
AOA, short for Ace of Angels, rose to popularity with their 2014 and 2015 hits "Short Hair", "Like a Cat", and "Heart Attack". Though they debuted as an eight-member group, AOA currently consists of six members.
Their latest single "Bingle Bangle" is an uber cute pop song complete with a whistling hook and folksy instrumentals. The colourful music video turns the members into roller-diner waitresses in a video game.
After being first introduced in the reality TV programme WIN: Who is Next as "Team B", the group appeared in another programme called Mix & Match, which resulted in the final seven-member lineup of iKon. Their debut album Welcome Back shot up to the top of the Gaon Album Chart, producing number one singles "My Type", "Apology", and "Dumb & Dumber", as well as other top ten singles.
Their recent single "Killing Me" is a melancholic electropop banger that culminates in an epic chorus, perfect for fist-pumping in the club. Or your bedroom. Whatever works for you.
Four-member girl group Mamamoo impressed critics from the get-go, with their retro-inspired debut single "Mr Ambiguous" immediately showcasing the group's strong vocals. Three of their 2018 singles did exceptionally well on the Gaon charts, making them one of the most popular K-pop groups in 2018.
Their single "Egotistic" is a sexy, latin-inspired song complete with Spanish guitars and sultry choreography in the music video.
9. Wanna One
Formed in the 2017 reality show Produce 101 Season 2, Wanna One is an 11-member group that immediately rose to popularity, with their debut EP 1x1=1 (To Be One) immediately shooting up to the top of the South Korean Gaon Chart.
Their song "Light" begins slowly, the first mellow verse letting their vocals shine. Then, it rises up to a chorus with strong beats — all the better to showcase perfectly synchronised choreography, of course.
Founded through the 2016 reality show Finding Momoland, Momoland is a nine-member group that got off to a rough start, their first three singles not even charting on the Gaon Chart.
But come 2018, their song "Bboom Bboom" became a viral hit, spawning a dance craze that has taken over the world. As of this writing, "Bboom Bboom" has raked in over 230 million views on YouTube.
7. Big Bang
The legendary K-pop group Big Bang are in a league of their own, and to be honest, the only reason the K-pop icons aren't higher up on this list is because they're currently on hiatus as the members finish their military service. But that hasn't stopped them from being one of the most popular K-pop groups in 2018.
Even though they didn't release a music video for their 2018 single "Flower Road", the track still made it to the top of charts in South Korea, Japan, and the US, which is a testament to the group's enduring popularity.
Formed through the 2015 reality show Sixteen by JYP Entertainment, Twice is a nine-member group that has consistently been churning out hit after hit since their debut. Because of their back-to-back hits, they've been dubbed as the next "Nation's Girl Group" and "Top-trend Girl Group".
Their song "Dance the Night Away" is a catchy summer anthem that incorporates their trademark catchy repetitions and cute choreography.
JYP Entertainment's Got7 is known for high-powered performances that include martial arts elements, their distinct energy earning them nominations and awards from several local and international bodies. Their past awards include won Best Worldwide Act (Korea) at the MTV European Music Awards in 2016 and World Hallyu Star at the Gaon Chart Music Awards in 2018. Their 2018 Eyes On You tour also made it to Billboard Boxscore's Hot Tours list, placing ninth on the chart.
Got7's lead single from their Eyes on You album "Look" boasts a sound that's part house, part hip-hop. It debuted on Billboard's YouTube Songs chart at No. 21 — making it the highest-charting K-pop song of 2018.
That is, until BlackPink released "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du" (more on that below).
BlackPink was the first girl group to debut under Entertainment since 2NE1. Their first two singles, "Whistle" and "Boombayah", charted at number one and two on the Billboard World Digital Songs chart, making BlackPink the fastest act to do so and the third Korean act to hold two top positions (after Psy and Big Bang).
Their single "Ddu-du Ddu-Du" made K-pop history by becoming the highest-charting hit ever by a K-pop girl group on the Billboard Hot 100, opening at No. 55. It was also the first K-pop group to chart a title on Nielsen Music's Streaming Songs tally. The band also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Emerging Artists chart — a first for an all-female K-pop act.
Nine-member group Exo ranked as one of the top-five most influential celebrities on Forbes' Korea Power Celebrity list from 2014 to 2018. Their 2013 debut album XOXO was a huge success, selling over one million copies, making Exo the best-selling K-pop act in 12 years. Exo is also known for their elaborate concerts and impeccable choreography, and though they haven't released a single in 2018, they're still one of the most popular K-pop groups in 2018, with the group performing in the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Their last single "Universe" is a soaring, dreamy ballad that lets each member's vocals shine. The neutral-coloured coffee-themed music video is as dramatic and romantic as its song. No wonder fans are clamoring for a comeback.
2. Red Velvet
Most K-pop girl groups fall under one of two categories: "cute and innocent" or "sexy". Red Velvet has managed to break these stereotypes, with weird music videos that are often dark and eerie in spite of their pastel aesthetics.
Their video for their recent single "Power Up" is no exception. The song's video game sounds and bubblegum pop sound is complemented by a colourful music video that features imagery like fruit being pressed into CDs, a giant hand picking up one of the girls and plopping her into a television, and spoons and ironing boards dissolving into thick, paint-like fluid.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of BTS, so it shouldn't surprise you that they top our list of the most popular K-pop groups in 2018. Though they come from a relatively small label (Big Hit Entertainment), the groundbreaking seven-member group has made history as the most commercially successful K-pop band overseas. Their impact on social media is unprecedented, having over half a billion likes and retweets — more than US President Donald Trump and Justin Bieber combined.
"Fake Love", the lead single from their third studio album Love Yourself: Tear debuted at number 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, making it the highest-charting song by a K-pop group in the US.
Did we miss any of your favourite K-pop groups? Who do you think should be on this list of the most popular K-pop groups in 2018? Let us know in the comments below!